Although I only spent two weeks at ‘Melabev Memory Club English’, it really made a lasting impression, and I was sorry when my time there came to an end.
Skilled Volunteers for Israel was incredibly helpful in setting up the placement for my specific requirements – a significant one being that I speak no Hebrew. Thus the English speaking ‘Melabev’ was perfect as I could easily interact with both the staff to find out what needed to be done, as well as with the elderly club members. Indeed, I really valued being able to chat to the members, hearing their oft-given words of wisdom or play word games, such as Scrabble, which were designed to help keep their minds as active as their stage of Alzheimer’s allowed.
It was an incredible environment to be in for 3 and a half hours each morning. I felt immediately welcomed by all and comfortable – enough to join in with the men’s ‘choir’ which started their day making their way through a songbook of old English and Hebrew popular songs. The singing (and not to forget the dancing also!) is a good example of the special type of atmosphere which Melabev created; it was no bleak and depressing home, rather a happy and cheerful space for volunteers and members alike.
As such, I genuinely felt that in my small way I did contribute to the community for the short time I was there, and was incredibly touched by the members’ kind words on my departure. But I am also grateful to the centre for what I learnt of the importance of patience and respect in those situations where members may be frustrated at their deteriorating mental abilities, as well as the significant difference which a cheerful disposition makes to yourself and those around you.
Best wishes, Elana, London, July 2016